The First Commandment with a Promise
(Ephesians 6:1-3 NKJ) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
The 5th commandment also says honour your father and mother that your days will be prolonged on the land which the Lord gives you. To the Israelites, this is the covenant of the land of Canaan, for us it is the covenant of entering into the eternal kingdom of heaven. The covenant is related to the 5th commandment; honouring the parents.
Without our parents, we would not have the life we have, and we need to think about the origin of life. With this commandment, God is emphasising the importance of honouring our parents. He puts our parents right next to the place of God. The 1st to 4th commandments is teaching us how to honour God. Right next to that, God is teaching us how to honour our parents. Biblically parents are those who pass on the covenant of faith in Jesus Christ who gives us eternal life. Our relationships with other people also start with our relationship with our parents who are the first people we come into contact with once we are born.
God does not tell us to rationalize or discuss or calculate why our parents deserve our honouring or respect. It is our duty as children to honour our parents.
To honour, in Hebrew is kavad כָּבַד: means to be heavy, to honour, to have weight. In Hebrew, they consider the heaviest organ as the heart, the centre of their being, the centre of our essence. To honour is to give more weight to their words, existence, their being, giving respect. That person is heavier than you, more important than yourself.
Our parents brought us into this world, in many cases they cared for us until we were able to become independent, which in itself is grace. There are many people who only remember the times when they were not thankful for their relationship with their parents or times of bitterness. We have to realise sometimes our parents don’t know how to express their love in the way we would like to see. Most parents have sincere and deep and inexpressible love for their children. There is no way that any child can pay back the love of our parents. May we receive the grace of God to remember only good things and be able to give thanks.
Regardless of how we grew up, how much love we may have received, the common thing with all mankind is to meet with our eternal God our Father and receive His love. When we receive that love, then we are able to love our parents even if we did not love them. Even if we love them, we will learn to honour them in the proper way. One of the most important things in honouring our parents is to make sure they are in heaven eternally. When we have a chance right now, we need to pray and give all our efforts that they will be in heaven. Then we will meet them and worship together.
The Bible speaks about sins that need to be judged by stoning. The Bible commands to stone to death those who work on the Sabbath Day (Exodus 31:15) and those who blaspheme God, and Deuteronomy 21:18-21 says to stone a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father or mother.
What parent, no matter how rebellious or disobedient their child may be, would report and bring their child to the city gate to be stoned to death? This expresses the love of parents.
We see such a rebellious son in Luke 15, the prodigal son. Yet the father waited for his son to return every single day, with so much love to share with him.
Honour our parents when we can. Unlike all the other commandments which are to be kept in our lifetime, this 5th commandment is time-sensitive because we can only keep it when our parents are alive. There comes a time when we wouldn’t be able to honour them even if we want to.
We have to remember as Christians, if we want to really love God, and do God’s work, we need to obey the Bible. God spoke very strictly about those who dishonour their parents in the Old Testament and New Testament. (Exodus 21:17, Deuteronomy 5:16, Leviticus 20:9, Proverbs 20:20, Proverbs 23:22, Proverbs 30:17, Matthew 15:4, Colossians 3:20)
We honour our physical parents whether they were believers or not, to make our lineage and our generations from this generation and forth, to become the genealogy and generations of faith. Let us become the generation of faith and the covenant, giving our life to pass down this faith, to fulfil the task that God has given us in the History of Redemption. Just like Adam, Seth, Jacob, Joseph they gave all of their life, time, and all they had for the purpose of God. That is the greatest way to honour our parents because that will bless even them and all our family. Even Jesus gave up His life on the cross for the will of the Father. Our true Father is God in heaven, that is why we need to ask ourselves: What kind of sons are we to God our Father? What kind of children are we to our parents?
There is no one in this world who grows up without hurts and pains. No matter how hard things may have been, and different things may be now, those who have met the true Father like Joseph, and have experienced the full abundance of love from Him, will have no problem overcoming all the hardships, difficulties and pain. Those who have experienced that love of God will learn to let go of the earthly things, the pains, hardships and difficulties we experience on this earth, and instead grab on to heavenly things like hope, joy, delight and thanksgiving. May you and I be able to truly experience the love of our Father, so we can truly evangelise and share that love with our parents.